Burlington Stores shares climb in market debut

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By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Shares of Burlington Stores Inc. soared in their trading debut Wednesday, underscoring investors' appetite for a stake in retailers who sell popular brands at deep discounts.

Shares rose $8.01, or 47 percent, to close at $25.01 while the broader markets closed lower.

The Burlington, N.J.-based discount retailer sold 13.3 million shares of common stock for $17 per share in an initial public offering that raised about $226.1 million.

It also granted the offering's underwriters a 30-day option to buy up to 2 million more shares, which would raise an additional $34 million. After discounts, commissions and expenses, Burlington says it expects to net $205 million in proceeds, which it plans to use to pay off debt.

The strong debut comes as the venerable chain, which competes with the likes of Ross Stores Inc. and TJX Cos., the parent of T.J. Maxx, has found itself in the sweet spot of the slow recovery: it sells coats and other clothing at deep discounts to top brands, appealing to shoppers still smarting from the recession.

"It has many famous name labels and it has a good reputation," said Walter Loeb, a New York-based retail consultant. "I am not surprised that it is surging."

In 1972, Monroe Milstein and his wife, Henrietta, founded Burlington Coat Factory, selling coats and outerwear from a single outlet in Burlington, N.J. But Milstein always claimed that the chain's roots go back to 1924 when his father, Abe, opened a wholesale coat business in the garment district in New York City.

Burlington Coat Factory then began to gradually expand with other outlets while moving into other areas like sportswear, suits, and toys. The company became a Delaware corporation in 1983 under the name Burlington Coat Factory Warehouse Corp. when it first became a public company.

Monroe Milstein, whose wife died in 2001, sold the company in 2006 for a little over $2 billion to the private equity group Bain Capital Partners. At that time, a holding company, Burlington Coat Factory Holdings Inc., was formed to be the ultimate parent. In February, there was another corporate restructuring and a new holding company, Burlington Holdings Inc. was created to be the ultimate parent corporation. The parent corporation changed its name again to Burlington Stores Inc. on Sept. 10.

Since 2006, Burlington has added an average of 23 stores per year for a current total of 503, spanning 44 states and Puerto Rico. The company reported a loss of $25 million on total revenue of $4.16 billion for the year ended Feb. 2.

Thomas Kingsbury, CEO of Burlington, couldn't be reached for an interview.

The shares are trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "BURL."

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